|Publication number||US7309286 B2|
|Application number||US 10/661,396|
|Publication date||Dec 18, 2007|
|Filing date||Sep 12, 2003|
|Priority date||Sep 12, 2003|
|Also published as||EP1663418A2, US20050059490, WO2005028044A2, WO2005028044A3|
|Publication number||10661396, 661396, US 7309286 B2, US 7309286B2, US-B2-7309286, US7309286 B2, US7309286B2|
|Inventors||Joseph R. Hedrick, Tai Rosander|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (24), Non-Patent Citations (1), Referenced by (6), Classifications (13), Legal Events (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention relates in general to gaming devices having a game operable upon a wager. More particularly, the present invention relates to a buttons used to operate the gaming device.
Various types of gaming devices are currently used in gaming areas. As illustrated in
U.S. Pat. No. 6,422,670 (“the '670 Patent”) describes a gaming device with footrests, shown as gaming device 10 and footrests 12 in
The '670 Patent also describes briefly, at columns 8 and 9, an extendable bet button described herein as extendable play button 20. As seen in
Any such extendable play button will be subject to substantial wear and abuse. Accordingly a need therefore exists for an extremely durable, dependable and affordable extendable play button for a gaming device having a game operable upon a wager.
The present invention provides an apparatus and method for forming a co-molded switch for an extendable input device used with a gaming device, and the co-molded switch made by such an apparatus and method. The extendable input device includes a pushbutton and a rearwardly extending connection cord. The tether includes a first, rigid material that supports the pushbutton and a second, flexible material that surrounds a portion of the first material and which is comfortable for a player to hold and grasp.
The apparatus of the present invention includes a button or switch, such as a momentary or maintained spring-operated pushbutton. The button triggers one or more functions on the gaming device, such as max bet and play, repeat the bet and play, or simply, play. The switch is housed inside co-molded parts. A rigid part surrounds immediately and holds the switch. The rigid part includes first and second housings in one embodiment.
The second co-molded part is an elastomeric or soft cover that is adhered to a surface of one of the rigid housings in one embodiment. The first and second rigid housings also have features for attaching mechanically to the elastomeric cover. An armored or otherwise resilient flexible cable is held in place with respect to one of the first and second housings via a retaining nut, such as a rubber grommet.
One method of forming the co-molded switch includes molding the rigid housings and the elastomeric cover at the same or substantially the same time. A first material is molded to form the first and second rigid housings. The first material is a relatively rigid synthetic material in one embodiment. For example, the first material can be urethane, polycarbonate, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinyl acetate, acrylic combinations of same or other plastic. The second material is substantially simultaneously applied or molded around and adhered to the first material. The second material is soft such as synthetic rubber, natural rubber, foam, or combinations thereof. The first and second materials are then cured to form the co-molded switch.
An apparatus for forming the co-molded switch includes in one embodiment a processor, an injector, one or more material supplies and a mold. The injector is connected operably to the processor and is configured and arranged to simultaneously or substantially simultaneously inject different materials into a mold. The material supplies are connected operably to the processor and the injector and supply the first and second materials to the injector to form the co-molded switch for the extendable switch of the present invention.
The present invention also includes a reel assembly operable to meter out and recoil the cord of the extendable switch. The assembly includes a spring, a ratchet and other components as discussed below. The ratchet enables the switch to be extended to and set at multiple positions. The ratchet also includes at least one dead spot that enables the switch to be released from a set position. When released, the spring is biased to recoil the cord or the switch within the machine and thereby retract the switch towards the machine.
It is therefore an advantage of the present invention to provide an apparatus that enables a player to play a gaming device comfortably.
Another advantage of the present invention is to provide an apparatus that enables the player to shift positions while playing a gaming device.
Moreover, it is an advantage of the present invention to provide an apparatus that enables the player to recline with respect to and operate the gaming device.
A further advantage of the present invention is to provide a co-molded switch for use with an extendable input device of a gaming device.
Another advantage of the present invention to provide a method for making a co-molded apparatus.
Another advantage of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for making a co-molded apparatus.
Another advantage of the present invention is to provide a reel assembly that enables the switch to be extended to multiple set positions and released therefrom without having to pull the switch to a fully extended position before such release.
Other objects, features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following detailed disclosure, taken in conjunction with the accompanying sheets of drawings, wherein like numerals refer to like parts, elements, components, steps and processes.
Referring now to the drawings, a gaming device 10 employing the present invention is generally illustrated in
Gaming device 10 can incorporate any primary or base game such as slot, poker, blackjack, lottery or keno, and any suitable secondary or bonus games. The symbols and indicia used on and in gaming device 10 may be in mechanical, electrical or video form.
Gaming device 10 generally includes a coin slot 12 and bill insertion slot 14, where the player inserts money, coins or tokens as illustrated in
As shown in
A player may cash out and thereby receive a number of coins corresponding to the number of remaining credits by pushing a cash out button 26. When the player cashes out, the player receives the coins in a coin payout tray 28 or may alternatively receive payment in a different form such as a ticket. The gaming device 10 also includes one or more display devices 30, which can show primary games, bonus games and other displays, such as credit display 16 and bet display 22 in video format.
The general electronic configuration of the gaming device includes: a processor; a memory device for storing program code or other data; a central display device; an upper display device; a sound card; a plurality of speakers; and one or more input devices. The processor is a microprocessor or microcontroller-based platform which is capable of displaying images, symbols and other indicia such as images of people, characters, places, things and faces of cards. The memory device can include random access memory (RAM) for storing event data or other data generated or used during a particular game. The memory device can also include read only memory (ROM) for storing program code which controls the gaming device 10 so that it plays a particular game in accordance with applicable game rules and pay tables.
It should be appreciated that although a processor and memory device may be used in the gaming device, the gaming device can also be implemented using one or more application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC's) or other hard-wired devices, or using mechanical devices (collectively or alternatively referred to herein as a “processor”). Furthermore, although the processor and memory device reside on each gaming device 10 unit, it is possible to provide some or all of their functions at a central location such as a network server for communication to a playing station such as over a local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), Internet connection, microwave link, and the like. The processor and memory device are generally referred to herein as the “computer” or “controller.”
With reference to
A player is shown in
In one embodiment, the extendable play input device 20 includes an electrical portion 50 and co-molded switch 52 as illustrated in
In one embodiment, the cord 56 is a flexible stainless steel cord or armored cable that withstands readily the rigors of frequent gaming, pulling, pushing, liquid spill, cigarette ashes, etc. Cord 56 protects wiring that connects the pushbutton switch 54 to the controller. Cord 56 includes inner and outer surfaces 58 and 60 respectively, where the inner surface defines a conduit or lumen for receiving electrical wiring 62.
In the embodiment illustrated in
Second portion 65 has a generally tubular or cylindrical shape including inner and outer surfaces 72 and 74, respectively. The inner surface defines a conduit or lumen for receiving and contacting cord 56. In one embodiment, second portion 65 contacts or is connected to first portion 64 and the cord, and is comprised of any suitable soft or flexible material including synthetic rubber, natural rubber foam products or any other suitable soft, malleable or otherwise comfortable-feeling material.
Referring now to
In one embodiment, electrical portion 50 also includes a second button 154, which controls a different function than does button 54. For example, button 54 could trigger the play or spin of the game, while button 154 triggers a change in the player's wager, such as change number of paylines played, the wager per payline, or both. Switch 20 includes any suitable number of buttons, such as buttons 54 and 154, that control multiple game functions. Moreover, the switches can be of a type other than an on/off switch, such as a switch that toggles between positions, such as sets one to five paylines or credits per payline for the player's wager. The buttons 54 and 154 are spring activated as indicated by springs 92 and connect to the game processor through conduit 56 via wires 94. Buttons 54 and 154 include contacts 96 that make momentary or maintained electrical communication with wires 94 when the buttons are pressed.
Conduit 56 runs to and through grommet 76 as described in more detail below. Grommet 76 is a bulkhead-type connection to gaming device 10, which allows conduit 56 to slide in and out of gaming device 10 in a relatively sealed manner. On the other end of conduit 56, a retaining nut 98 is attached to lower rigid housing 64 b and seals around conduit 56.
Upper and lower rigid housings 64 a and 64 b each include a lip 164 a and 164 b that help to hold soft elastomeric portion 65 in place. As specifically illustrated in
In a retracted form, conduit 56 of extendable button 20 is disposed mainly on the interior side of the lower front cabinet of the gaming device 10 as illustrated in
Gaming device 10 uses a stop assembly 80 to prevent the extended play button from being disconnected from the gaming device 10. In the illustrated embodiment, the stop assembly includes a bracket 82 defining an access area which enables the cord to freely slide through. A generally cylindrical weight 84 is attached at a pre-selected distance to the end of the cord, preventing axial forces from being placed on the electrical connection to the gaming machine while in the extended position. This cylindrical weight has a relatively larger diameter than the cord. In a normal position the weight rests in the interior of the lower front portion of the gaming device. When the co-molded switch is in an extended position, the diameter of the weight is much larger than the access to the bracket, preventing further movement on the armored cable stop as generally illustrated in
In one embodiment, the co-molded switch 52 of the present is formed in a two-step process. In
Referring now to
As described in more detail below, a ratcheting mechanism of reel assembly 100 includes a number of locking positions and at least one dead spot in which locking does not occur. The player feels such spots as the player pulls switch 52 and cord 56 and also when allowing input device 20 to recoil back into gaming device 10. One of those dead spots occurs when cord 56 has been pulled from gaming device 10 to the furthest point possible. That is, if the input device 20 is pulled to a furthest point and released, reel assembly 100 automatically recoils cord 56 and switch 52 of input device 20.
At least one electrical connector, such as slip ring electrical connector 112, is attached to fixed PCB 108. A series of traces (not illustrated) are placed or formed on rotating PCB 110. The conductive traces are circular and make electrical contact at all times during rotation of PCB 110 with slip ring connector 112 on fixed PCB 108. Pad 106 maintains a constant positive pressure on the electrical connection between connector 112 of fixed PCB 108 and electrical traces formed rotating PCB 110.
Rotating PCB 110 is fixed to a first rotating member 114. Coil 56 and other apparatus described below are maintained between first rotating member 114 and second rotating member 116. Rotating members 114 and 116 and the apparatus maintained between same form a rotating sub-assembly within reel assembly 100. As illustrated in
The locking nut or adjuster 122 is connected to an axle 140 (illustrated in
A biasing member such as a pawl spring 126 is fixed at one end to cover 120 or other member of enclosure 110 and at another end to a pawl 128. Pawl 128 as shown in more detail below is operable to lock ratchet 118 in position when the ratchet moves in a coil-extending rotational direction. In that way, the player can pull input device 20 to a desired position and let pawl 128 engage the ratchet at the extended position and hold that position even if the player releases the grasp of device 20.
An electrical connector 130 is provided at a convenient place on the outer enclosure 110 to enable the electrical circuitry within reel assembly 100 and input device 20 to be connected to and communicate with the circuitry and processing of gaming device 10. Electrical connection of assembly 100 is discussed in more detail below in connection with
Referring now to
Coil 56, which in one embodiment is armored metal cable, can stretch. When the player pulls input device 20, the coil 56 and switch 52 are meant to move, not stretch. Accordingly, a non-elastic and strong cable 134 is placed inside coil 56 along with electrical and signal wiring 136. Cable 134, which can be braided or wound metal wiring, attaches at one end 138 to rotating member 114 and sets substantially the length of coil 56. Cable 134 attaches at its distal end to switch 52. When the player pulls switch 52, the manual force is thereby transferred via cable 134 and fixed end 138 to first rotating member 114. The transferred force in turn rotates member 114 about axle 140 (which is locked in place via lever 124). Spring 132 is connected at its inner end to the axle. Member 114, as well as member 116, rotates about axle 140 via suitable friction-reducing devices such as roller bearings, ball bearings or friction resistant, e.g., bronze or plastic bushings.
Cord 56 when pulled rotates member 114 in a counterclockwise direction with respect to the orientation of member 114 in
In addition to strain relief cable 134, a tab 142 is coupled to the proximal end of cord 56 to rotating member 114. Tab 142 enables wires 136 to connect via connector 144 to rotating PCB 110 in a substantially stress-free manner, even when the wires 136 are rotating with member 114. Wires 136 are also positioned safely away from an area of the standoffs that receives the coiled cord 56.
A larger ratchet 148 is also connected rotatably to axle 140 and rotates with inner and outer rotating members 114 and 116. Ratchet 148 defines a number of gears or teeth 150 that operate in pairs to define a plurality of notches 152. Ratchet 148 also includes at least one, and in one embodiment a plurality of, smooth or dead area(s) 155. Dead areas 155 discussed above provide non-locking areas on ratchet 148.
Pawl 128 is connected to pawl spring 126, which in turn is connected to cover 120 or other fixed structure of assembly 100. Pawl 128 is shaped and configured to lock into one of the notches 152 when that notch engages pawl 128 from a counterclockwise (per orientation of
The multiple dead areas indicated by smooth portions 155 of ratchet 148 create a noticeable tactile feel by the player, so that the player can tell intuitively that those areas are locking and/or unlocking. The player does not have to pull cord 56 from an intermediate locked position all the way to be fully extended to commence recoiling of the cord. The player instead only has to pull cord 56 to the next dead area, wherein pawl 128 does not engage ratchet 148, so that the force of spring 132 applied to cord 56 can begin the recoiling of same.
Referring now to
Slip ring connectors 112 are electrically coupled to common wires or traces that run to signal connector 130, which is attached to fixed PCB 108. Connectors 112, the conductors running from connectors 112 to connector 130 and connector 130 enable the other electronics within gaming device 10 to communicate electrically with switch 52. The connectors enable power to run to a single switch or multiple switches as the case may be as well as one or more light emitting diodes (“LEDs”) provided to illuminate faceplates or other indicia desirably illuminated on switch 52.
Referring now to
The injector of the present invention simultaneously, or substantially simultaneously, distributes the material in a controlled manner to avoid waste. The injector includes a conventional injector housing in one embodiment and a conventional distributor or injector nozzle contained in the housing which is connected to the supply and processor. One or more tubes or other conduits are connected to the injector and the supply, enabling the apparatus 190 to apply the materials in single or plural applications.
The injector communicates with the processor, responding to on/off or proportional command signals, which control the timing and extent of operation. In a preferred embodiment, the injector has a predetermined application or injection rate, wherein the injector provides one material as supplied and then the other material. However, it should be appreciated that the injector includes two or more distributors or nozzles, enabling the injector to apply the differing materials simultaneously. The injector 192 communicates with the processor 198, providing status signals including, for example, signals representing the quality and/or quantity of the material injected.
The supply communicates with the processor and is in fluid communication with the injector through the various tubes or conduits. The supply provides a predetermined amount of each of the differing materials in suitable quantities to the injector as determined by the processor. The material is preferably supplied as needed, eliminating storage of the material in the injector, thereby reducing waste.
In one preferred embodiment, the supply satisfies the apparatus's pre-processing (i.e., storage and/or mixing) and transfer requirements of the material for particular applications. It should be appreciated that any suitable materials, including urethane, plastic, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinyl acetate, acrylic, synthetic rubber, natural rubber and foam products may be stored and provided by the supply.
The material is stored in one embodiment and used in apparatus 190 at a predetermined temperature and pressure appropriate for the differing materials, and fed under pressure to the injector. The supply responds to commands from the processor, providing operating status to the processor for safe and efficient operation. In one embodiment, the supply includes a conventional displacement pump and conventional pressure regulator. The pump operates at a relatively high pressure, and at some point in transport to the injector, the tubing and material are regulated to a lower pressure.
While the present invention is discussed with respect to an extendable play input device, alternative embodiments are contemplated, including an extendable bet one button and a combined extendable play button, bet one or max bet button. As discussed and shown above, the co-molded switch of the present invention could operate with two or more buttons, such as the play button and bet one button. In that embodiment, the player increases the bet using the bet one button on the co-molded switch 20 and then activates the play button of switch 20, which starts the game or sequence of events.
While the present invention is described in connection with what is presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiments, it should be appreciated that the invention is not limited to the disclosed embodiments, and is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit and scope of the claims. Modifications and variations in the present invention may be made without departing from the novel aspects of the invention as defined in the claims, and this application is limited only by the scope of the claims.
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|U.S. Classification||463/37, 273/148.00R|
|International Classification||H01H9/02, A63F, A63F9/24|
|Cooperative Classification||H01H9/0228, G07F17/32, G07F17/3216, G07F17/3209|
|European Classification||G07F17/32C4, G07F17/32C2D, H01H9/02C2, G07F17/32|
|Feb 2, 2004||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: IGT, NEVADA
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:HEDRICK, JOSEPH R.;ROSANDER, TAI;REEL/FRAME:014937/0397
Effective date: 20031016
|Jul 22, 2008||CC||Certificate of correction|
|Jun 20, 2011||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|May 29, 2015||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8